Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity Network: Theory and Methodology

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Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity Network: Theory and Methodology

International Workshop: 24-25 May 2013 Organised by the Centre for Contemporary Religion, Aarhus University, funded by the Danish Research Council.

Applications are invited for a limited number of funded places (covering travel, food, and accommodation) to attend the inaugural meeting of the CARD Network. The network will hold its first meeting, at Aarhus University, Denmark on May 24-25, 2013. For this meeting, we invite international scholars to explore the theme of how to study religious diversity. The network will critically analyze what is currently a disparate field of scholarship to explore the consequences of how scholars are constructing the social realities of religious diversity in the world. Initially, the network aims to collectively analyze the context dependent methods that scholars are currently using to study diversity. We then aim to further refine and develop that preliminary analysis to inquire if there are general methods of studying diversity which might be applicable from nation to nation. Finally, the network intends to use this practical analysis to develop theoretical frameworks for considering how the methods used to discuss religious diversity have shaped the way religion is understood by both governments and the academic community. The project’s ultimate goal is to attain a clearer understanding of how religion is conceptualised, defined and policed by States and the scholars who study religious diversity within those nations.

The network will be led by Lene Kühle, Aarhus University in association with Jørn Borup, Aarhus University, William Hoverd, Victoria University of Wellington, and Tim Jensen, University of Southern Denmark.

Invitees will present a 20min talk and be prepared to engage in a critical discussion of their work. In addition, we want our participants to think critically about the assumptions that have been made about religious diversity in their research methods/context. We include our working questions below:

Questions we want to ask
1. Does your research use the term religious diversity, pluralism or both terms? Do you see the terms as distinct from each other?
2. What methods are researchers currently using to study religious diversity? Are they using quantitative data, qualitative data, census data, or micro, macro, comparisons?
3. What are scholars finding to be the strengths and weaknesses of these methods for this research?
4. What artificial limitations and relationships have researchers assumed when using broad categories to define religious groups such as Buddhist, Christian and Muslim?
5. How have researchers treated individuals who profess multiple religious affiliations and those who conflate their religion with their national or ethnic identity?
6. Is your research constrained by human rights discourses and law?
7. How is unbelief/non religion being assessed?
8. How have numerically small religious groups been treated by researchers?
9. Are researchers finding that new categories and/or definitions of religious belief are necessary?
10. How have scholars addressed the relationship between the nation state and religious diversity in their context?

We ask that you state your interest in attending the CARD network workshop by sending us a 250 word abstract by January 14th 2013. Please also include your name, address, and institutional affiliation.

CARD has been invited to organize a session on religion and cultural diversity at a parallel conference (“Matchpoints Seminar”) taking place May 23-25 in Aarhus (where invited speakers include Will Kymlicka and Robert Putnam). Please indicate it if you are interested in presenting at this session also (on May 23). More information is to be found at

Please send your statement of interest to: Dr Jørn Borup, by January 14th 2013.

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